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With the standard caveats that it's only September, much work must yet be done, and that we can't take anything for granted in the Presidential race, I'd like to ask everyone reading this to clear your minds of the clutter of the current news cycle for a moment, and try to peer with me into the future.

It is 2009.  Barack Obama is now our President.  His first 100 days in office are shaping up as a whirlwind of change.  He is systematically dismantling the unconstitutional executive privileges to which George W. Bush helped himself for the last eight years.  He is, as promised, beginning a measured and steady drawdown of troops from Iraq.  His legislative proposals, with a 50-vote Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, are sailing through the lower house of Congress.

There's only one problem: The U.S. Senate, where 42 Republicans (plus "Independent" Joe Lieberman) are absolutely refusing to play ball.

The Republicans, stinging from their landslide electoral losses of 2008, have but one weapon remaining to them: the filibuster.  And they are threatening it, and using it, on bill after bill after bill.

National healthcare? Filibuster.

National energy policy? Filibuster.

President Obama's budget, and changes in the tax code? Filibuster.

In addition, John Paul Stevens has announced his retirement from the Supreme Court, and Republicans operatives are saying (off the record, of course), that they will filibuster ANY Obama SCOTUS nominee.

Meanwhile, every Republican lawmaker and pundit who can find a TV camera or a keyboard is lambasting President Obama for his intransigence, his partisanship, his unwillingness to compromise.  "For all his big talk about bipartisanship before the election," says one Republican senator, "Now he's just trying to have everything his way and cram all these bills down our throats, and we're not going to stand for it."

Senatorial gridlock is in full swing, and with a compliant media establishment at their side, Republicans are slowly chipping away at President Obama's approval rating.  It's not even mid-way through 2009, but the Republicans are already eyeing the 2010 elections.  The economy remains in a funk due to the remnants of Hurricanes George and Dick, but the GOP is working every day to saddle President Obama with the responsibility for the economic slowdown.  Word is circling that Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove are plotting a repeat of 1994 for the 2010 elections.

The above scenario is not only plausible, but, I believe, likely.  Perhaps Barack can truly "reach across the aisle" and pull enough Republicans over on each particular issue (health care, taxes, employee choice, energy) to "get things done" and move America forward.

Do you trust the Republicans enough to count on that?  Or do you believe as I do that, knowing that things such as universal healthcare can never be undone once granted to the American people, that the GOP Senators will circle the wagons as never before and fight with all their being to stop "THE CHANGE WE NEED" from occurring, all the while working their PR machine and the media to paint Obama as an arrogant elitist who lied to the American people about being willing to "reach across the aisle"?

Maybe we could actually pressure them enough through grassroots action to force them to come around.

But would you really care to count on it?  If you need health coverage, would you like the decision about whether or not you'll get it to fall into the hands of the likes of Saxby Chambliss?

Didn't think so.  So here's my point: we need to give President Obama a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.  We need 60 Senators.

It is NOT going to be easy, but I think it can be done.  But we are going to have to focus some energy on races that, heretofore, we haven't been paying much attention to.

Here's where we stand now:  We have 37 incumbents not up for re-election, plus Bernie Sanders.  So we're starting with 38 guaranteed Democratic votes.  For the purposes of all further analysis, from my perspective, Joe Lieberman is now a Republican.

So, we've got 38 Senators right out of the gate.

Let's now take a look at some numbers from FiveThirtyEight:

Now, I'm ignoring the percentages and the fact that Nate, God bless him, still counts Lieberman as a Democrat.  Let's look at the "Scorecard":

We've got 11 Senators sitting with a 100% chance to win, according to Nate.  Of course, one of those is Joe Biden, who will need to be replaced by Delaware's governor.  Since that governor is currently a Democrat and Biden would surely resign his seat should he become VP, I think it's safe to assume that his seat stays Democratic.

That gets us to 49.  We need 11 more.

Nate at FiveThirtyEight also puts Tom Udall (NM) and Mary Landrieu (LA) in the "Safe Dem" category, with 98 and 97% chances of winning, respectively.

That's 51 Democrats (well, 50 Dems and Bernie Sanders, whom I wish we could clone 99 times).  We need 9 more.  Here's where it gets interesting.

In the "Likely Dem" category, Nate puts Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), and Mark Begich (AK).  The lowest win percentage amongst this group, according to Nate, is 88% (Begich).  Now, given that you-know-who is from Alaska, we will have to keep an eye on Begich's race, but considering he's facing a guy with a stack of criminal indictments, I suspect he'll be OK.

That's 54.  6 more.

The last name on the left column of Nate's graph is Mark Udall in Colorado, with a 78% chance of victory and a label of "Leans Dem".'s composite agrees with this, showing Udall as a 44.4%-38.9% favorite over GOP foil Bob Schaffer. You certainly don't need me to tell you that Colorado is a battleground state, and hopefully all the Obama effort in the state will help Udall, but this is a race we CANNOT let slip away.

That's 55.  Now we go to the scary side of Nate's graph--of course, the right side.

We need to pick off 5 of those seats.  And this is where I have to say something unpopular:

I like Scott Kleeb, Andrew Rice, and Rick Noriega.  From what I've seen of them, I like them all very much.  And it's still early.  But they are all heavy underdogs in states that Obama is not going to play that well in.  Counting on them to get us to 60 is, quite frankly, folly.  You can see what Nate thinks of their chances in the graph above.  Pollster shows Kleeb down by 23, Rice by 16, Noriega by 14.  They are great guys, no dispute on that, but they are longshots to win.  One of them may pull out an upset, and in a perfect world all three would--but the odds say it's not gonna happen.

So where do we get our five seats?  Well, you see Nate's chart.  We have four candidates fighting for "Leans GOP" seats: Kay Hagan (NC), Al Franken (MN), Jeff Merkley (OR), and Ronnie Musgrove (MS).

Now, I'm from Mississippi, and I'm about as excited to vote for Ronnie Musgrove as I would be to vote for a dead fish.  He is definitely not a progressive--but he's the one in the race with the big D next to his name.  His race is currently getting away from him, however, and he is in another of Obama's weaker states.  He is the most problematic of the four candidates above--not only is he the least likely to win, he's the most likely to be a Blue Dog-type Senator.

But Kay Hagan, Al Franken, Jeff Merkley?  We need to be ON those races.  If we really want to get to 60, we need to get on board with Ronnie Musgrove too.  Or we need to move another race into contention somewhere.

If we pull those out, that's 59.  Who's number 60?  As near as I can tell, the most likely guy is Jim Martin in Georgia.  Nate doesn't like his chances much, but the Obama team is putting up a fight in Georgia, and he is steadily gaining on Saxby Chambliss.  Pollster shows him down by about 7-8 points, but he had a late primary and he's been gaining fast.

So with all this in mind, I would like to make a proposal: I humbly submit that, in the interests of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, the following candidates should be added to the official DailyKos "Orange to Blue" list (candidates' names are linked to their individual ActBlue pages):

Mark Udall
Kay Hagan
Jeff Merkley
Jim Martin
Ronnie Musgrove

And, just in case Markos doesn't add the above candidates to the Orange to Blue list, I have created an ActBlue list of my own:

The Search for Sixty

I ask, as do we all, that you merely do what you can.

Thanks for reading.

Originally posted to Chris Carlson on Tue Sep 02, 2008 at 11:42 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  One note on Joe LIEberman. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nova Land, jakebob, petral, Chris Carlson

      Although we progressives have much disdain for him at the moment he's with us on most domestic issues, and basically everything but Iraq. He'll be with us on healthcare, global warming, immigration, taxes, etc.

      Whether he should be kicked out of the caucus or not is not my business, but I can't say I'd be angry if it did happen.

      And because of Repug gains in 2004, the deck will be stacked for us again in 2010. There are numerous pick-up opportunities, and I'm confident that barring some bizarre occurence, for that reason alone we'll get to 60 in 2010.

      "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." -Horace Mann

      by Big Danny on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 12:32:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Musgrove is running in a special election (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Because Wicker was appointed to Lott's seat. In Mississippi, I've heard that special elections don't include the candidates' parties. Thus, Musgrove won't have a D and Wicker won't have an R next to their names.

      This is advantage to Musgrove in this heavily Republican state.

      "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." -Horace Mann

      by Big Danny on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 12:51:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Musgrove was governor here. (0+ / 0-)

        Not many people are going to forget he's a Democrat, sorry.

        "Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need."--Tyler Durden

        by Chris Carlson on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 01:21:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  From wikipedia: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Woody, petral

          "Musgrove campaigned as an independent and conservative candidate, downplaying his membership of the Democratic party and avoiding inviting any national figures to support him."

          The fact is the D and R won't appear on the ballot. Hopefully the D voters remember Musgrove's a D and the R voters forget which is which, or just remember Musgrove's name. This is advantage to Musgrove any way you look at it in Mississippi.

          "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." -Horace Mann

          by Big Danny on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 07:13:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Even better (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Big Danny

            Because it is a Special Election, the candidates will be listed alphabetically on every ballot in MS. That is worth 2 to 5 points right off the top.

            Meanwhile Musgrove seems to have dodged a bullet. The Repubs were starting out trying to smear him about a link to a bankrupt meat plant and some campaign contributions allegedly bribes. (Hey, that shit worked well against Gov Siegelman in Alabama, so ...) But that case didn't even get to trial, and that smear sort of lost its excitement.

            •  ya. And this special election shouldn't have been (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              scheduled for November. Lott resigned in December 2007, so he could become a lobbyist a year later instead of two years later. The Governor was supposed to schedule a special election within 100 days of Lott's resignation.

              Haley Barbour, the Republican governor, wanted to give Wicker more time to campaign against someone like Musgrove, who had more name recognition at the time. Barbour and the Mississippi Attorney General disagreed. The language of the law had some ambiguity, although that was due mostly to the plain-spokenness (for lack of a better word) of the law and the Miss Supreme Court agreed with Barbour.

              So, long story short, Wicker was allowed to stay in Lott's Senate seat about 8 months longer than he would have before he'll face reelection.

              Had it been held earlier, such as on March 11, Miss's presidential primary day, Musgrove likely would have won. Democratic turnout was so high that Obama crushed Clinton with 61% of the vote, but Clinton still had more votes than all Republican candidates combined. Obviously Musgrove would have had a built-in advantage and Wicker would have needed thousands of Republican to vote weeks after McCain became the presumptive nominee.

              "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." -Horace Mann

              by Big Danny on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 10:49:46 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  In a wave year (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      In a map-changing, realigning election the winning party wins races no expected. Even in '06, the Senate races broke in our favor. None of the professional prognosticators had predicted that the Democrats would win control of the Senate. All the experts said we would win some seats, maybe as many as four, but we won six. This year those some experts say we will win some seats, maybe as many as six. If we exceed the expectations in the same way this year ... yes, we can.

      Our own top expert still seems to think we have a good shot at 60 seats. Chuck Schumer is acting like a guy who is trying to win a dozen races at once. And look at how far we've come this year. We saw six Repubs decide not to run for re-election, and one who got indicted. We have three red Senators in blue states. Kay Hagan was an unknown state senator until Schumer recruited her into the race and she won the primary in NC, and now she leads Liddy Dole in some polls. Jim Martin was a former state rep until Schumer recruited him into the race and he won the primary. Now he is within single digits against Shameless Saxby Chambliss. We need just another two or three races to catch fire in Idaho or Texas or Oklahoma or Kentucky or elsewhere. Yes, we can.

      In 1932 the Democrats grabbed a dozen seats or so, coming on smaller gains in 1930. Of course, the country was definitely on "the wrong track" in the Great Depression! But even in 1958 the Democrats won back a dozen seats that had gone Repub six years earlier when Eisenhower had won his first term. Then in 1980, the Repubs got a dozen seats, more iirc, when Reagan turned Jimmy Carter and the Democrats out of power. Is Bush even less popular now than Carter was in 1980? Is the country on "the wrong track"? So can we win the 60 seats? Yes, we can.

      •  Like TN-SEN Bob Tuke over Lamar Alexander (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Please, folks, Obama organizers are registering folks like crazy, and educating dem voters on the downstream races.

        Bob Tuke has a compelling bio, is a progressive with strong, mainstream values, and was the Dem Party Chairman at a time Tennessee needed a boost.

        Donate if you can, put him on your radar and help us Tennesseans embrace blue once again!

        Forget the yellow ribbon thing: Have you joined or donated to Veterans and Military Families for Progress ( yet?

        by Maura Satchell on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 07:33:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry to Rain on Your Parade, This is What Palin (0+ / 0-)

    is for. Repub spokespeople have been pointing out that local and state repubs have been clamoring for a super Christionist VP for a long time. It's even more about downticket than McCain. They all seem very relieved.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Sep 02, 2008 at 11:48:14 PM PDT

  •  This is one of the most practical and thoughtful (12+ / 0-)

    diaries I've seen posted on this site in a long, long time. Thanks!

  •  Already donated twice to Franken. (8+ / 0-)

    I'm getting broke here.

    Collins, Snowe and Spector are going to break away at least on some of the issues. Damn shame Tom Allen cannot seem to get his game going.

    One other point: resignations. I'd look for maybe one or two Republicans to resign as they are part of criminal investigations, just as a running average.

    So we may get a one or two seats in the interregnum.

    John McCain's choice after 6 months for VP shows he's unfit to lead.

    by shpilk on Tue Sep 02, 2008 at 11:50:41 PM PDT

  •  DINO's (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BradMajors, esquimaux, kurt

    Save your energy. There's no point in obsessing about getting sixty senators. Even if we get to that number nothing fundamental will change because we have weak party discipline.

    Look at the current Congress. It is the Democrats who have had to filibuster (and mostly they've failed) because the Republicans can always peel off enough Democrats to enact whatever extreme policy the President has required.

    •  Filibustering your OWN PARTY's President... (9+ / 0-)

      Is a lot harder than filibustering the other party's.  I doubt even Musgrove would join in on that action.  He might not vote for some stuff, but I doubt he'd join the Repubs to filibuster say, health care (especially since he's been slamming Wicker on that issue over and over).

      I agree, some of these folks aren't perfect, but they're what we've got.  Fact is, in the Senate, you can't start worrying about BETTER Democrats until you have MORE Democrats.  And MORE, these days, in this climate, does NOT mean 55 or 56.  It means 60.  If we don't get to 60, unless Harry Reid becomes a hell of a lot shrewder, we're not going to see much of ANYTHING get done.

      "Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need."--Tyler Durden

      by Chris Carlson on Tue Sep 02, 2008 at 11:56:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sixty means nothing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The only time when the raw party count counts is in organizing the chamber at the beginning of the session, for which 51 is approximately as good as a much larger number. Beyond that, it's all a matter of mustering votes for: bills; nominees; motions. Adding more Democratic senators who will break ranks and vote with the Republicans on every crucial matter is actually a disadvantage, because the bad work that Congress does is blamed on the party that is nominally in control.

        •  Sixty means everything. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Albanius, cjallen, beijingbetty

          Adding more Democratic senators who will break ranks and vote with the Republicans on every crucial matter

          And you have WHAT evidence that the people I listed would do what you suggest?  

          But supposing they did...if we have 60, and 5 defect on the actual VOTE, that still leaves us up 55-45.  All we need is to be able to stop a filibuster, which ANY elected Democrat would be more easily counted upon than ANY elected Republican.

          "Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need."--Tyler Durden

          by Chris Carlson on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 12:11:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Individuals not numbers (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Big Danny

            As far as individual candidates go, I'm totally with you. In particular, I have my hear set on Al Franken winning. I actually gave a check to Rick Noriega at YearlyKos 2006. I'm working in NC these days, and am greatly optimistic about Kay Hagan. And, Scott Kleeb is absolute centrefold material, IMO.

            All these people are solidly on the better Democrats side of the formula. So why push the more Democrats side?

            •  Because even Ronnie Musgrove, (6+ / 0-)

              while he is against equality for gays, abortion, and for the 10 commandments in government buildings, will still stick with us on economic issues.  And on health care and EFCA, we'll need every vote we can get.

              •  Thank you. (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                cjallen, beijingbetty, Ruby JM, Big Danny

                And Demi...Scott Kleeb can't serve as a "better Democrat" if he loses his election.  And right now, he's down 23 points.  If he were down 7-8, you can rest assured I'd be plugging him ahead of the likes of Ronnie Musgrove.  But this is the world as it is, not as we would like it to be.

                Like I said, until we get to 60+, we still need MORE.  After that point, I will gladly join you in focusing on BETTER.

                "Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need."--Tyler Durden

                by Chris Carlson on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 12:32:45 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Good on ya. We have to be practical here. (4+ / 0-)

                  I once remarked that I was disappointed that Brad Henry had decided not to attempt to unseat James Inhoffe, and someone angrily responded that we already had a candidate in Andrew Rice. I was of course totally aware of this fact.

                  However, there is no denying that two-term Gov. Brad Henry would stand a better chance at unseating Inhoffe, probably the most despicable member of the Senate.

                  Even if someone like Andrew Rice would be a better actual Senator than Brad Henry (which I am not convinced of by the way), I don't give a rat's ass unless he too has a chance to win.

                  I live in CA, so I'll vote for the most progressive choice in the primary, but in the OK's and MS's and NE's of the nation I'll take the 'more democrats' and let the CT's and NJ's and WA's worry about getting the 'better democrats' elected.

                  We need more AND better democrats. I'd like to see us eventually get back to those FDR-era 65-35 splits, in which case we don't need the Musgrove's and Nelson's and Pryor's, but hell! we need 'em for the time being.

                  "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." -Horace Mann

                  by Big Danny on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 12:42:34 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  So here is the deal (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peraspera, beijingbetty

    We all work our asses off......elect Obama by a Reaganesk majority "mandate"....and then we get some Repubs to cross over, to save their seats in 2010 and 2012?

    "Hope is that thing inside us that insists...that something better awaits us if we have the courage to fight for it." --Barack Obama

    by loree920 on Tue Sep 02, 2008 at 11:59:40 PM PDT

  •  nicely done (3+ / 0-)

    wish i could recommend twice.

    if obama can get out the vote he can help ensure democratic senators in NC, MS, MN, AND OR, but GA is going to be tough.

    "There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home." John Stuart Mill

    by kuvasz on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 12:17:11 AM PDT

  •  please delete (8+ / 0-)

    You don't seem to realize that by putting this kind of informative, substantive, useful information in the diary list you are pushing several breathless diaries about recent news articles off to where they can't be seen.

    If you insist on this anti-social behavior I will have no option but to recommend you and ask that others do likewise.

    You've been warned...

  •  You just convinced me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody, SciVo

    to volunteer for the Merkley campaign.

  •  Well, here's how I see it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    First, 60 is unlikely.... but it's getting less unlikely

    Second, here's how I view the probabilities right now

    Seats that won't switch, unless something amazing happens:
    AL  AR  DE  IA  IL  KY  MA  MI  MT  MS(A) NE NM OK SC  SD  TN  WV  WY(either) WY

    Seats almost sure to switch
    VA  NM   AK

    that's a gain of 3

    Possible losses:
    LA, NJ     neither very likely, leaving it at +3

    Possible gains
    NH    .94
    CO    .76
    MN    .35
    NC    .4
    GA    .35
    OR    .21
    MSB   .15
    ID    .13
    ME    .10
    TX    .08
    KY    .02

  •  Rick Noriega can still win (0+ / 0-)

    And don't count out Rick Noriega just yet. Everyone worries that he doesn't have enough money to saturate the state's 20 media markets. Hell, last time we had candidates with lots of money running in Texas they all got their behinds kicked, back in '02. Because 9/11 changed everything -- yes, for one or two elections it did.

    This year is different. Noriega's Hispanic base is solid, it just needs turnout. That does not take paid media if the free media carries some excitement. It's been reported that Hillary plans to campaign for Noriega in several Texas cities and along the border. The black bloc vote should turn out well too, even if today they don't even know Noriega's name. And if the Obama ground game in November is as good as it was in March, the turnout of Anglo Democrats will be massive.

    In the Houston area we have two surprisingly competitive House races and a bunch of local races that will drive turnout, while Democrats have been gaining ground in recent elections in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

    And it's certainly possible that McSame's numbers will weaken like a hurricane coming ashore over the parched King Ranch, and erode more support from Cornyn's showing. The show in St Paul hasn't been very impressive as far as I can see.

    Of course, it wouldn't hurt if Noriega got some big money support from national Democrats, but he just might pull it off without it.

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